Terry Devlin - Patient Story
"Then four words came next to me - Fox Chase Cancer Center."
— Terry Devlin
"Mr. Devlin, the biopsy came back positive. It is malignant. You have prostate cancer."
When 59-year-old Terry Devlin heard those words from his doctor, so many thoughts rushed through his head. "How do I tell my wife, my daughters, my granddaughter Samantha, my family? Will I live or die, and what kind of treatment should I get?"
About a year before his diagnosis, Terry, who lives only a few blocks from Fox Chase, had put a sign up on his lawn, "Save Lives, Support Fox Chase Cancer Center," in support of Fox Chase's ongoing expansion plans. "The idea of adding more cancer research and education facilities and services to the community to me was a no-brainer," he said. "I wanted to show my public support."
So when Terry's PSA (prostate specific antigen level, which indicates risk of developing prostate cancer) spiked to 5.75 in August 2009 and his biopsy results tested positive for cancer, Fox Chase came immediately to mind. After talking over options with his wife Flossie, he did some research about Fox Chase online. Terry read about surgical oncologist David Chen, MD and his experience with the da Vinci® robot assisted prostatectomy, and decided to schedule a consultation.
"He laid out all the options, including explaining possible short- and long-term side effects," said Terry. Because his cancer had been caught early, and was confined to the interior of the prostate, the prognosis for a full recovery after surgery was good. "Dr. Chen said he would know for sure once he did a post-operative biopsy," recalled Terry, who was impressed with the caring attitude of Dr. Chen's entire team, and physicians assistant Sue Burke in particular.
"Sue really explained in terms that a lay person could understand, what was going to happen and what to expect."
In November 2009, Terry underwent robotic surgery to have his prostate removed. He was home by noon the next day. "I'm a guy who does not typically have a big tolerance for pain. But I only took one pain pill. Really, there was just some discomfort." The really good news came with the post surgical biopsy report. "All the margins checked out - the cancer was gone." Terry did not require further treatment.
A year and a half later, in 2011, Terry admits, "I may not be 100 percent, but guess what - it was my life that was on the line. Thanks to Fox Chase and Dr. Chen, I'm cured. I don't even think of myself as a cancer survivor. Frankly, I don't think about it anymore."
"I was a lucky one - lucky I went to Fox Chase right after my diagnosis and lucky to find the superb Dr. David Chen and his team at Fox Chase and to have great family support. I'm also lucky that because of Fox Chase's public education efforts. I found my prostate cancer early, had an operation and just celebrated my granddaughter Samantha's 5th birthday, cancer-free."